Friday, June 19, 2009
Is overpopulation causing rice shortages?
(Although this essay does not explicitly touch on the RH bill, it is a direct refutation of one of the arguments being put forward by RH bill supporters, namely, that overpopulation is to blame for rice shortages in our country.)
by Deni Rose M. Afinidada
young free lance journalist
This is to react on Kara David's report aired over 24 Oras on April 3, 2008, linking the relationship between population and rice shortage. David's shallow reporting only shows how insufficient her research is in alleging that the growing population is one of the causes of rice shortage in the country. The report is a mere scapegoat to subtly promote so-called "reproductive health." Many of us wonder how much money David and reporters like her get from contraceptive grants to promote artificial contraception? Don't they have any source about Natural Family Planning besides the Church?
Of course, if it's the Church they quote, they can forever claim that it's from the moral stand point that makes the Church promote NFP. Also, it would be easier to attack NFP through the clergy who don't use NFP because they have vowed for chastity. But what about the economists' and the scientists' findings and points of view? Have reporters like Kara ever quoted any expert on the scientific side of NFP? What about the cancerous side effects of hormonal contraceptives like pills, implants, injectibles? Is he aware that these extrogen-progestogen products have been labeled by the World Health Organization as Type 1-carcinogenic since 2005? Why did they not report that? Hormonal contraceptives do prevent certain cancers while advancing more serious ones (breast, cervical) kinda "your cancer, your choice." But I'm no longer surprised why these reporters are so afraid to quote scientists, Nobel laureate economists (from Simon Kuznets to Amatirya Sen who counter the population growth=poverty claim), doctors, or even NFP users themselves. It's because these media men are so scared to let the public know that they (the reporters) are very one-sided on the population issue, that they were trained in population control-funded institutions like UP, or because they receive benefits of whatever kind (monetary, sexual liberation, but definitely not better health!) from self-proclaimed reproductive health groups.
Look at how the news or documentaries on population control are packaged. Notice that reproductive health (read: anti-reproductive, anti-health) issues receive the most air time, while NFP and the news about the side effects of contraceptives are the least priority. Our media practitioners are worse than their American counterparts like Barbara Seaman who would dare investigate right through courts the unexposed drawbacks of contraceptives. You can't expect anything healthy from these methods since they don't only prevent pregnancy, they prevent the normal mechanisms of the reproductive system!
Have you, Kara and the rest of the pack, even heard about the Billings Method, the Sympto-Thermal Method, the Standard-Days Method, the Two-Day Method, the Ovulation kits, and other modern NFP methods approved efficient by the WHO, before doing your reports? My goodness, Jay Taruc can't even pronounce the "Rhythm" method right in his past i-Witness documentary on the population increase in the Philippines! He pronounced "rhythm" as "rye-them"! What a shame! If he can't pronounce the word right, how can you expect him to know that there's a new and more effective NFP method than Rhythm? Of course, he'll not figure out because reporters like him are too lazy to research! They even don't have the common sense to realize that if contraception sponsors can invent new methods and technologies, so can the doctors and scientists of NFP; that NFP research has long progressed since the Rhythm Method!
Since Kara noted in her story that there was a rice shortage because rice production was also short, she should go to Africa where there are too less people yet people are starving. I don't know why reporters like Kara always see population growth in a bad light, while all the while, it's population growth that is making China and India the upcoming superpowers of the world. If we nurture our population, no matter how big or small it is, we can use our added manpower for our advantage. It is not only rice or natural resources that must be preserved, but also our people's productivity and values. We must envision to change our people's value for rice than controlling our people's population, because no matter how big or small they are in number, if they are habitually wasteful, there would always be rice and food shortage. It's the grain population that should be controlled, not those who eat them.
There goes the zero-sum game economics versus the dynamic-pie economics. Zero-sum Malthusian believers think here's a limited pie and the more there are people who eat from it the less each would have. The dynamic-pie economists think the more there are people, the more there are booming industries and businesses (the most advanced societies have the biggest population densities like in cities), those who share from the pie also contribute to the pie so the pie gets bigger the more there are people who share. Because people don't just eat, they work and invent technologies that recycle or enhance the potential of natural resources. To resolve the rice shortage through population control is a lazy method—the government being lazy to find more solutions to produce more rice—as indolent as some reporters who would flash vercrowded places just to prove their point (since they don't know the difference between overcrowding and overpopulation). It's the same as flashing scenes of a honeycomb overcrowded with bees and yell "Hey! We're being overpopulated with bees. Let's pill 'em and kill 'em."
Those government officials whom Kara interviewed for her news spot are so lazy, that instead of fixing the problem, they ought to just put the blame on their constituents, the big population who voted for them. If these government officials reiterate that it's the population that's the root of the problem, then why don't they start trimming down the populace by killing themselves and other people like them who believe in the overpopulation myth? Why would they intercept the birth of another human being, innocent of the rice shortage, into this planet? I wonder how much of the other episodes in the program are ingeniously wrapped in word play but are very poorly researched, as poor as the researches on the overpopulation myth, aptly declared by the New York Times Millennium edition as the "myth of the 20th century." If you reporters were to make your homework, that is to make additional studies, you would find more evidences why Kara's news is no news at all. She's simply continuing a myth narrative, like her teachers.
Now, for those of you who decide to stay stuck on your contraceptive mentality, then I challenge you— Kara David, Jay Taruc, Winnie Cordero, Patricia Evangelista, Miriam Quiambao and your likelihoods—to go and take contraceptives as much as you want and likewise contracept all your minions. I bet hunger from rice shortage is much easier to solve than cancer! Even a P70-per-kilo rice is more accessible than chemotherapy because of cancer induced by contraceptives. There is no rice in the table, so don't tell us or the government to buy condoms and pills instead.